At the Angelus, Pope Francis reiterated the value of World Day of the Poor. “The poor are at the centre of the Gospel. Jesus came for the poor. Have you received so many things and yet you your brother and sister die of hunger?” The pontiff mentioned the people of the Philippines affected by floods caused by typhoons. He also appealed for reconciliation in the Ivory Coast, and prayed for the victims of a fire in the Piatra Neamt hospital (Romania).
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis said at the Angelus, “Today, the Church tells us: Stretch forth your hand to the poor! And Jesus tells us: I am the poor!”
“Stretch forth your hand to the poor” is also the theme of the message he released last June announcing the World Day of the Poor, which he instituted four years ago. To mark this occasion, Francis celebrated Mass this morningin St Peter’s Basilica, together with people representing the poor and members of charitable organizations.
Before the Angelus prayer he addressed the pilgrims in St Peter’s Square, expressing his thoughts about today’s Gospel on the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), speaking about the “wicked and lazy” servant who did not use the gifts God had given him to improve on what he received. “He defended his laziness by accusing his master of being ‘hard’.” So the master “took away his talent and cast him out of his house”.
Francis continued without his written text. “This parable applies to everyone, and as always, in particular to Christians. It is very topical today as we celebrate the World Day of the Poor: Stretch forth your hand to the poor, do not be selfish. Look: there are so many [poor]; even in our cities, in the centre of our city, there are many. Do the right thing!”
“We sometimes think that being Christians means not doing harm. Not doing harm is good. But not doing good is not good. We must do good, go beyond ourselves and look, look at those who need more. There is so much hunger, even in the heart of our cities. So many times, we slide into the mindset of indifference: the poor are there, and we look the other way. Stretch forth your hand to the poor; they are Christ.
“Some say: ‘But these priests, these bishops who speak of the poor, of the poor … We want them to speak to us about eternal life!’ Look, brother and sister, the poor are at the core of the Gospel; it is Jesus who taught us to speak to the poor; it is Jesus who came for the poor. Stretch forth your hand to the poor. You received so many things, and you let your brother, your sister die of hunger?”
“Dear brothers and sisters, let each one say, in their heart, what Jesus tells us today, repeat in our heart: Stretch forth your hand to the poor.’ Jesus also told us something else: ‘You know, I am the poor.’ Jesus told us this: ‘I am the poor one’.”
“The Virgin Mary received Jesus himself from God, but she did not keep him for herself; she gave him to the world, to his people. From her we learnt the awe of the Lord, not fear. Above all, we learn caring love, to put ourselves at the service of one another. So that, the Lord, on his return, may find us like this, committed to making his gifts bear fruit.”
After the Marian prayer, Francis spoke about a number of crises. He first spoke about the people of the Philippines, where typhoons caused widespread flooding. He also mentioned strong tensions in the Ivory Coast and clashes between English-speaking and French-speaking regions.
“I join the prayer to attain from the Lord the gift of national harmony. I urge all the sons and daughters of that dear country to collaborate responsibly for reconciliation and peaceful coexistence. In particular, I encourage the various political actors to re-establish a climate of mutual trust and dialogue in the quest for just solutions that protect and promote the common good.
Finally, Francis offered his prayers for the victims of yesterday’s accident in Piatra Neamt, Romania, where the intensive care unit of the local hospital caught fire, killing at least ten people, some of them COVID-19 patients.